It’s game day once again. Fans are packing up their tailgates and filing into Notre Dame Stadium, the cheerleaders are warming up, the band is about to take the field and the video and still photographers are staking out their chosen spots to photograph Marcus Freeman leading the 9th-ranked Fighting Irish out of the tunnel and to the field for a 2:30 p.m. clash with the Central Michigan Chippewas. 

Photo by Chad Ryan.

All the photographers except me. 

Unfortunately, due to a medical issue that hit me like a ton of bricks in July, I have not been able to photograph a game yet this season. The medical issue, it turns out, was a particularly nasty bugger. More on that later.

I had just wrapped up a busy early summer of lining up photo jobs and clients for the fall seasons, including being selected to be the official photographer for the World Martial Arts Games in Daytona Beach the last week of July. It was finally time for a break. 

On July 6, I headed to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan for a long guys weekend. I go up north a handful of times during the year. I love it up there. In fact, the owner of a Yooper cabin and I came to an agreement during a phone conversation on my way home for me to buy his cabin. I was so excited coming home that Sunday evening. 

Two days later, I suddenly was unable to walk. I had a terrible shooting pain in my right hip. My hip doctor gave me a prescription for inflammation. Two days after that, I was dehydrated and my right shoulder and right wrist joined the party. It was time to head to the emergency room.

Numerous blood tests later, the care team came in to my room and told me I had contracted a staph infection in my blood and joints. Sepsis, they called it. I asked, “Ok, that sounds bad, but what exactly does that mean?” Their reply was they would have to start me on intravenous antibiotics right away and do surgery on all of the effected joints, including removing both of my hip implants. Now it was real. That was an eye opener. I didn’t know what to think.

Several friends and family members called, visited and sent me message of concern, prayer and support for my family. I stayed in the hospital for 16 days. I can confirm that I didn’t enjoy any part of that stay. Lots of pain. Lots of blood tests, Lots of time being stuck in a an uncomfortable bed. A few days later, however, the doctors told me my body was responding to the meds. They decided I would not need the surgeries after all. 

Thank God for all the prayers and positive thoughts for that! 

No surgeries, but a long recovery. Very long. I’d lost all the jobs I lined up during that summer crunch. I even had to back out of the deal to finally purchase the cabin i’d been trying to buy for quite some time. 

I’ve been at home since July 31, recovering, regaining my strength and mobility and wishing I could be photographing Notre Dame games. I still need a little more time to marinate before I can get back. But I fully expect to be back, patrolling the sidelines with cameras. That seems unlikely for the big game next week, so I’m aiming for no later than when the Fighting Irish host some team from Southern California that’s supposed to be decent. 

Until then, I’ll just have to replay in my mind the scene at Notre Dame Stadium when the fans get loud, the band belts out the Victory March and the Irish run onto the field. it’s pretty hard to not get a good dose of chills just thinking about it. 

Photo by Chad Ryan.

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